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The Killing Lessons

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In their isolated country house, a mother and her two children prepare to wait out a blinding snowstorm. Two violent predators walk through the door. Nothing will ever be the same. When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper's isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it's the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it's jus In their isolated country house, a mother and her two children prepare to wait out a blinding snowstorm. Two violent predators walk through the door. Nothing will ever be the same. When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper's isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it's the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it's just another stop on a long and bloody journey. And they still have many miles to go, and victims to sacrifice, before their work is done. For San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart, their trail of victims-women abducted, tortured and left with a seemingly random series of objects inside them-has brought her from obsession to the edge of physical and psychological destruction. And she's losing hope of making a breakthrough before that happens. But the murders at the Cooper farmhouse didn't quite go according to plan. There was a survivor, Rowena's ten-year-old daughter Nell, who now holds the key to the killings. Injured, half-frozen, terrified, Nell has only one place to go. And that place could be even more dangerous than what she's running from. In this extraordinary, pulse-pounding debut, Saul Black takes us deep into the mind of a psychopath, and into the troubled heart of the woman determined to stop him.


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In their isolated country house, a mother and her two children prepare to wait out a blinding snowstorm. Two violent predators walk through the door. Nothing will ever be the same. When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper's isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it's the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it's jus In their isolated country house, a mother and her two children prepare to wait out a blinding snowstorm. Two violent predators walk through the door. Nothing will ever be the same. When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper's isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it's the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it's just another stop on a long and bloody journey. And they still have many miles to go, and victims to sacrifice, before their work is done. For San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart, their trail of victims-women abducted, tortured and left with a seemingly random series of objects inside them-has brought her from obsession to the edge of physical and psychological destruction. And she's losing hope of making a breakthrough before that happens. But the murders at the Cooper farmhouse didn't quite go according to plan. There was a survivor, Rowena's ten-year-old daughter Nell, who now holds the key to the killings. Injured, half-frozen, terrified, Nell has only one place to go. And that place could be even more dangerous than what she's running from. In this extraordinary, pulse-pounding debut, Saul Black takes us deep into the mind of a psychopath, and into the troubled heart of the woman determined to stop him.

30 review for The Killing Lessons

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I have to say, this one managed to poke at some of my deep-seated fears, which doesn't seem to happen often enough. I’m a horror movie junkie and crave a panic-inducing level of fear every single time I pick up a dark and gritty read. I want to be scared out of my mind for some unknown reason. I know, crazy . . . right? You will never find me living in a remote area, in the middle of the woods, with no neighbors around - never. Who would I run to for help if something bad went down? It would make I have to say, this one managed to poke at some of my deep-seated fears, which doesn't seem to happen often enough. I’m a horror movie junkie and crave a panic-inducing level of fear every single time I pick up a dark and gritty read. I want to be scared out of my mind for some unknown reason. I know, crazy . . . right? You will never find me living in a remote area, in the middle of the woods, with no neighbors around - never. Who would I run to for help if something bad went down? It would make me feel way too vulnerable being all alone, just surrounded by trees. Like I was at the mercy of those just waiting to come and take advantage of the situation. Case in point, this story. Rowena, a single mother, and her two kids are ambushed in their home, in the middle of nowhere, Colorado. There is nothing that could have prepared them for the two men who showed up with the intent to wreak havoc on their lives. It’s depraved and gory and incredibly sad what happens to them. It’s my worst nightmare come true. Sure the men were crazy, but it was their unpredictability that made for an even scarier combination. Jumping from state to state and woman to woman; they leave behind a confusing trail of mutilated bodies. A major portion of the story is told through the eyes of the lead detective, Valerie. A woman whose demeanor and backstory has been done so many times before in this genre. This case is consuming her entire life, vodka is her number one coping skill, and she’s pushed away the only man she’s ever truly loved. Sounds similar to a lot of other police procedurals, right? Just once, I want a detective that has her shit together. Is it just the nature of the job that makes living a happy and balanced life impossible? I think the author did a great job of creating a sense of utter hopelessness. There were so many things that made me feel that way; the dead ends Valerie and her team faced, the sheer number of dead bodies, seeing no possible escape for Claudia and the reality that Nell and Angelo might not be discovered in time to make a difference. All of these things kept me on the edge of my seat for pretty much the entire read. I would definitely consider picking up Lovemurder.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf)

    2.5 Stars I couldn't help but be somewhat disappointed with this book. I had heard such wonderful things about it and a lot of my friends have given it a minimum of 4 stars. I just didn't feel all the LOVE. There are a few things going on at once in this thriller. First we meet Rowena and her family at a secluded house where two armed men enter. 10 Year old Nell is the only one who escapes and flees into the snow. One of the men follows her and so begins Nell's fight for survival. At the same time 2.5 Stars I couldn't help but be somewhat disappointed with this book. I had heard such wonderful things about it and a lot of my friends have given it a minimum of 4 stars. I just didn't feel all the LOVE. There are a few things going on at once in this thriller. First we meet Rowena and her family at a secluded house where two armed men enter. 10 Year old Nell is the only one who escapes and flees into the snow. One of the men follows her and so begins Nell's fight for survival. At the same time Valarie, a detective, is desperately trying to find a serial killer who has killed many women in horrible, gruesome ways. She realises that he may not be acting alone. And finally Xander's story. The killer. How and why is he doing what he is doing? And how did he get such incompetent help? The three stories of Nell, Xander and Valarie continue, and come together in a griping conclusion. Now don't get me wrong, I did like this book. It was very gripping and exciting in parts. The characters were well written, all interesting and complex. However too much of it was just totally unbelievable and corny and TOTALLY predictable. There were a few times in the book where the author would focus on something small and "insignificant" eg a funny shaped tree, and give it just a little bit too much attention, which made the reader aware that it would end up being an integral part of the investigation. It was way too predictable for me. Even the reason that Carla disliked Valarie was SO OBVIOUS. I felt every twist as a disappointment. Parts of this book were extremely slow. There was more than one occasion where I was totally and utterly bored reading about what the characters were thinking about every second. Or when they would go off on tangents, imagining what it would be like if they were in a different situation. It felt like it went ON AND ON AND ON. And Valarie! Oh my gosh if she went on about "what its like to LOVE" any more, I think I would have ripped my hair out! I counted at least 10 different occasions where she went on about LOVE and what its like to have LOVE and what its like to lose LOVE and LOVE and LOVE. ARRRRRGGGGG!!!!! And then the other characters started on about LOVE AND LOVE AND LOVE... And lets not mention the medical inaccuracies... I can't help but be frustrated with the description of miscarriage, pain relief and other cringe worthy medical parts of this book. Ok enough with the bad. It was exciting. I will admit that. I enjoyed the majority of the characters. I liked Valarie despite her flaws and I tried not to hold all the LOVE against her... I enjoyed the relationship she sort of had with Nick. I liked how the bad guys were written, and there was a lot of blood and gore in this book. I'm glad it wasn't too graphic though, some of the killings were over even my threshold of tolerability in a thriller (which is saying something) but a lot of the really bad stuff was mentioned or merely eluded to, but not described in detail. Would I recommend it? Yes, but for die hard thriller fans... Those who don't mind their thrillers with a little bit of dribble. For more reviews visit my blog www.booksbabiesbeing.com Follow me on Twitter www.twitter.com/BBB_Mel

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maxine (Booklover Catlady)

    Absolutely freaking fabulous serial killer chiller! Oh man! I have read so many crime books featuring serial killer themes and this is an absolute stand-out. I wish every single book I read was this engaging, well written, exciting and chilling, that would make me one permanently happy reader. Don't you just love a book that you love from the first word to the last? Yup, this was one of those. I will try not to gush TOO much with this review but seriously this is an outstanding book and if you ar Absolutely freaking fabulous serial killer chiller! Oh man! I have read so many crime books featuring serial killer themes and this is an absolute stand-out. I wish every single book I read was this engaging, well written, exciting and chilling, that would make me one permanently happy reader. Don't you just love a book that you love from the first word to the last? Yup, this was one of those. I will try not to gush TOO much with this review but seriously this is an outstanding book and if you are a crime/serial killer chiller fan DO NOT MISS THIS ONE. I had read some of the snippets of reviews from well known authors and reviewers on the inside front and back covers and was well impressed, but took them with a pinch of salt. Turns out that they were all spot on. I really liked the quote from author Linwood Barclay "Do not read this. No reader deserves to be terrified like this." and "Black squeezes every last ounce of suspense out of this story...The Killing Lessonsis state of the art in the ever darkening serial killer genre" from The Washington Post. The plot sizzles and shocks every step of the way. Two serial killers, horrendous rape scenes, torture and kill methodology. You will NEVER see the alphabet in the same way again. These are seriously messed up guys and you are going to love to hate them. I refuse to give too much away as this book has so much in it that spoilers could be easy to spill. Their killing spree is relentless and they are getting more and more motivated. The motive behind the killings and the back story too is was absolutely brilliant. This is intelligent fiction, not just blood and killing for the heck of it. I was addicted to this book very, very quickly. With constant strengths all the way through in plot, character development, twists and suspenseful moments this book easily enters my long-list for my Top Ten Reads of 2016. Why did I not hear of this book last year when it was released? Never mind, I have read it now and so should you! The detective on the case is a fantastic character, she is broken, damaged, cracked and not a cookie-cutout character cop whatsoever. I absolutely loved her tenacity and realness. The book is presented from numerous points of view, smoothly integrated so that you don't get confused. It's like the events being seen from so many angles but making it so much more exciting because of it. As a reader I had a birds-eye view and it was spectacularly good. There are difficult graphic rape/torture/kill scenes, I was fine with them as a seasoned reader of dark crime and it's nice when an author is willing to go there and make no apologies. Your heart will break a few times over and you may shout at the book, try to tell the characters what they need to hear and be page-flicking desperate to get to the next bit, the next outcome, the next scene. Bloody brilliant. As the book barrelled to the grand finale I was totally lost in it, reality blurred and nothing was going to stop me from finishing it. SO GOOD! Hugely recommended reading, crime/serial killer fans plus those readers who love a good thriller and high suspense will no doubt love this too. I have stumbled across a few negative reviews for this and am genuinely befuddled by them and wondering if we read the same book? As many know I read mostly in this genre so for this to be one of the best I have ever read is high praise indeed. 6/5 stars. My new scoring system. Math was never my best subject, English was. I will be looking for more from this author and read that the pen name Saul Black reveals another published author underneath the title so I will do some detective work myself. Chilling, full of tension and suspense, horrifying moments, quality writing and a plot to die for! Did I mention I really loved this book? Woot! Thanks for reading my review! For more of my book reviews, plenty of awesome books to win, author interviews and features come over to join me for book fun at: https://www.facebook.com/BookloverCat... To follow me on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/promotethatbook To enquire about joining my reviewers team: http://goo.gl/forms/GWMOvlofZg Finally to enquire about my book publicity services: http://goo.gl/forms/eVwa2HFKnK

  4. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I came to this hearing really good things about it and who the novelist was, so my expectations were fairly high. Unfortunately, as it turns out, a little too high. I couldn't get this at all. It starts out really well. A family in a remote part of Colarado are hit upon by two twisted killers, told with graphic visualisations and genuinely scary. Especially the little girl who manages to escape the evil clutches of one of the men. But then the story just lost it for me. We have the obligatory dri I came to this hearing really good things about it and who the novelist was, so my expectations were fairly high. Unfortunately, as it turns out, a little too high. I couldn't get this at all. It starts out really well. A family in a remote part of Colarado are hit upon by two twisted killers, told with graphic visualisations and genuinely scary. Especially the little girl who manages to escape the evil clutches of one of the men. But then the story just lost it for me. We have the obligatory drink dependent cop out to solve the killings that seem to be spreading across America and I lost interest in the over telling of many aspects of characters. There just seemed to be too much of what was not important. So much so I skipped to a few chapters before the end and felt that I didn't really lose much of the story. I came away really disappointed especially given that the first few chapters were totally gripping. The writing is good, just kept going off in different directions that frankly had me thinking about what I should cook for dinner!! Mind wandering is never a good sign when reading a page or two. I fully accept that this is just my take on it and obviously it does work for others. Not me I'm afraid in this instance.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Terri Wino

    A good book that could have been a great book if: 1) It had been about 100 pages shorter. There was too much unnecessary and boring side story. This had me losing interest several times until some new burst of action happened. 2) The stereotypical good cop, but has a drinking problem interfering with her work scenario. 3) Eliminating the Carla character altogether and the whole she hates Valerie subplot. Didn't care about it, and it was one of thosethings that made parts drag for me. 4) Going too A good book that could have been a great book if: 1) It had been about 100 pages shorter. There was too much unnecessary and boring side story. This had me losing interest several times until some new burst of action happened. 2) The stereotypical good cop, but has a drinking problem interfering with her work scenario. 3) Eliminating the Carla character altogether and the whole she hates Valerie subplot. Didn't care about it, and it was one of thosethings that made parts drag for me. 4) Going too over the top a few times with Leon as the Energizer Bunny who takes a licking, but keeps on ticking. Actually, the same could probably apply to Valerie too. With a few changes, I feel the story would have moved along more quickly and kept the intensity it started off with. I did like the book, but I do feel it could have been so much better if the heart-pounding pace could have been maintained by eliminating all the boring extra side stuff.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael Robotham

    Glen Duncan can change his name, but he can't lose his style. There is ample evidence of his writing skills in this new excursion as he ticks all the boxes of serial killer fiction - a sadistic killer with perverted fantasies, an alcoholic detective with a lousy private life, a missing woman and an unlikely hero. This area of crime fiction has a lot of imposters, but very few writers do it as well as this. Glen Duncan can change his name, but he can't lose his style. There is ample evidence of his writing skills in this new excursion as he ticks all the boxes of serial killer fiction - a sadistic killer with perverted fantasies, an alcoholic detective with a lousy private life, a missing woman and an unlikely hero. This area of crime fiction has a lot of imposters, but very few writers do it as well as this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    Teaser Review: Full review near publication. Serial killer thrillers are tricky things – they can be way over the top, so extreme that you lose all sense of feeling. They can be under cooked, so they are not terrifically frightening. They can border on ridiculous when it comes to police procedure. Writing a truly scary, authentic feeling, heart stopping thriller involving a serial killer is not the easiest thing to achieve. I’ve read many and out of those I would quote a handful as being anywhere Teaser Review: Full review near publication. Serial killer thrillers are tricky things – they can be way over the top, so extreme that you lose all sense of feeling. They can be under cooked, so they are not terrifically frightening. They can border on ridiculous when it comes to police procedure. Writing a truly scary, authentic feeling, heart stopping thriller involving a serial killer is not the easiest thing to achieve. I’ve read many and out of those I would quote a handful as being anywhere near as good as this one. In fact I’m not sure I’ve read one as good as this one… Saul Black has written an utterly frightening, endlessly compelling, rollercoaster ride of a novel, featuring an amazing cast of characters every single one of whom is full of such depth that you will easily be persuaded that you are reading real people in a real life doing real things. And that my friends is scary as hell. The plot is intensely intelligent, brilliantly written and will carry you along whether you want to go or not – kicking and screaming I tried to escape occasionally, so nerve wracking it was at times, but nope – I had to follow right along to the end. And the ending chapters were perhaps the most powerful “finish” to a crime novel I have read in years. Put this one on your list folks – you will not want to miss it. Don’t be frightened – its only fiction. I promise. Happy Reading Folks!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Dear reader, On a seemingly ordinary day,I walked into a bookstore in search of distraction. Sitting on a shelf,the only copy left,it called to me. So naturally I did what I normally do when deciding to part with my hard earned cash....I opened the first page and started to read this book. After a few moments I knew that I'd like it. What I didn't know was how utterly compelling and addictive it would turn out to be! To say this is a story about not one but two serial killers does this book an in Dear reader, On a seemingly ordinary day,I walked into a bookstore in search of distraction. Sitting on a shelf,the only copy left,it called to me. So naturally I did what I normally do when deciding to part with my hard earned cash....I opened the first page and started to read this book. After a few moments I knew that I'd like it. What I didn't know was how utterly compelling and addictive it would turn out to be! To say this is a story about not one but two serial killers does this book an injustice. To add that we sympathise with the monumental efforts Valerie Hart and her team are making to bring these killers to justice isn't true,initially,for they have no suspects,very little DNA evidence,only the decomposed bodies of women who died at the hands of maniacs. What we do have however,and are sadly privy to at the beginning of the story,are the names of these men as we catch them in the act of adding other victims to their log of abuse,depraved mutilation and finally welcome death. To say that Valerie and her team catch a lucky break,dear reader,would likely lead you to thinking that this was the work of a moment,or that the killers themselves slipped up. Nothing could be further from the truth,and as we see the circumstances surrounding the discovery of this initial clue,along with the path that Valerie and her team take to discover the identity and whereabouts of these two men,we are practically left speechless,so enraptured are we at the domino effect that plays out. Added to the chase,we are allowed access to the backstory of Valerie,the reason her life has tunnel visioned into work alone,her 'mild' obsession with alcohol and her reaction to the appearance of one Nick Blaskovitch. We read of the grieving widower,a little girl that,although saw nothing,now knows too much and the young woman who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Coupled with these facets of the storyline, we also learn of the powerful instinct to survive,the strength one garners when faced with insurmountable challenges and the choice to dare act in ways that in a previous life would have been deemed impossible. We are also offered,dear reader,a snapshot into the early life of the alpha killer,the wrongs that were done to him,that of course don't condone what he has done,but do go some way to explaining the path he chose. I loved so many different elements of this book-the chase,the different characters and their unique histories that led to a strange inevitably in their meeting,the beautifully crafted story,in many ways horrific to read, but also utterly compelling in its carefully chosen words,descriptive phrases and exploration of the realm of human emotions. I could continue to wax lyrical of the merits of this book,but I won't,as my words alone cannot do justice to this fantastic thriller. I will end by saying that I highly recommend it,but please beware that it is not for the faint hearted!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    The world was full of women not noticing the men who were noticing them. Sometimes you just want to read a really fast paced thriller, full of suspense and edge of your seat excitement and this ticks every box. It begins with Rowena Cooper, a widowed mother of two children, who curses her stupidity in feeling safe in her remote house, when two men walk – rather than break – in. and her nightmare begins… The two men have been murdering women throughout the country and homicide detective, Valerie H The world was full of women not noticing the men who were noticing them. Sometimes you just want to read a really fast paced thriller, full of suspense and edge of your seat excitement and this ticks every box. It begins with Rowena Cooper, a widowed mother of two children, who curses her stupidity in feeling safe in her remote house, when two men walk – rather than break – in. and her nightmare begins… The two men have been murdering women throughout the country and homicide detective, Valerie Hart, is the officer in charge of an investigation which goes back over three years and has haunted her for the past seven months. Now she is working with Special Agent Carla York, but Valerie cannot help feel that Carla is not completely on her side. Drinking too much and depressed by a love affair which fell apart some time ago, Valerie is an intelligent and driven officer. However, her team are just fishing in the dark and nothing seems to result in any leads. Poring over evidence night after night, Valerie knows that a break can only come with more victims and the past victims are always there, haunting her thoughts. What follows involves a serial killer haunted by his own demons, a woman held prisoner, a detective who is under attack and a child who knows who the killer looks like. This novel keeps up the pace all the way through, with fascinating, flawed characters, unlikely heroes and some extremely creepy scenes. I really hope that this book has a sequel, as I will surely be reading on if it has. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys intelligent, well written thrillers. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Judy D Collins

    Saul Black (aka British author, Glen Duncan) delivers THE KILLING LESSONS, a dark, and shocking psycho-crime suspense literary thriller, which will leave your head spinning! Making it difficult sleep after reading this one, with heart-pounding adrenaline. As the mutilated bodies mount and the objects collected inside them scream, sicko-- a poor little girl barely escapes, injured, collapses and lands on a cabin door in the remote woods in the snow. The man at the cabin is crippled, can barely w Saul Black (aka British author, Glen Duncan) delivers THE KILLING LESSONS, a dark, and shocking psycho-crime suspense literary thriller, which will leave your head spinning! Making it difficult sleep after reading this one, with heart-pounding adrenaline. As the mutilated bodies mount and the objects collected inside them scream, sicko-- a poor little girl barely escapes, injured, collapses and lands on a cabin door in the remote woods in the snow. The man at the cabin is crippled, can barely walk; no phone, electricity and a bridge washed out. Grieving his late loving wife, and all the while an alcoholic detective cop in San Francisco is fighting against all odds, desperately trying to track down two serial killers before their next kill. Flashing back and forth with three powerful parallel storylines, crossing several genres, Black's writing is pure spellbinding! Set in the brutal cold harsh winter of snow, in a small town of Ellinson, pop. 697, outside of Colorado, two armed and dangerous men turn the Cooper family house into a blood bath. A mother, Rowena is left for dead, and her thirteen-year-old son, Josh, upstairs with his headphones listening to music, oblivious to the events unfolding downstairs. Nell, the ten-year-old daughter, happens to be outside feeding the deer, and hears a gunshot and rushes into the farmhouse, while the men are upstairs. Her mother did not have time to get to the gun to defend herself, and she knows there is no time for her daughter to save them, without being harmed. The mother tells Nell to run as fast as she can. All Nell can see is blood everywhere and the man is soon following her out into the woods- her red coat. She fears for her life. She has to escape. She has to get help for her mother and brother. She has to stay alive. She always carries her bracelet in her pocket; her mother gave her to protect herself, handed down for generations. The Old Mystery Guy lived in a remote cabin across the ravine. His name was Angelo Greer. He had moved in the previous week, to the derelict place over the bridge, a mile east of the Coopers. They had not met him. The bridge was not safe and had been closed for more than two years. He walks with a stick, an author, which is grieving the love of his late wife who died of cancer. A woman is found dead, raped and mutilated with a piece of a crystal unicorn inserted in her body in the California area. SFPD homicide detective Valerie Hart links this crime and another Bay Area slaying, to a string of murders of women in several states across the western U.S., in each of which the killers—DNA evidence suggests there are two --all with an embedded object. Detective, Valerie has issues, from being an alcoholic and a love life went wrong. Carla is an FBI agent, which does not get along with Valeria, (undermining her efforts) causing further problems, a nemesis, and her ex- fiancé cop, Nick –all to distract her. However, Valerie is tenacious and will stop at nothing to catch these cold-hearted killers. Meanwhile, most of the book is about the two sadistic serial killers and their demons traveling across the country in an RV. Monsters created by horrific child abuse, Xander/Leon and Paulie -on a mission; to rape, torture, and murder aided by some elements where letters of the alphabet are involved. Flashing back and forth from the Xander-Leon/Paulie, to Nell/ Angelo, to Valeria/Carla/Nick, a race against time as poor Nell and Angelo will break your heart (this was my favorite part), as they try to help one another, both at a disability, before the killers come to get them for an explosive ending. THE KILLING LESSONS is one fast-paced, edgy, disturbing, twisted, and terrifying dark crime, cop, psycho-thriller combined with characters you root for, and some you want dead soon, rather than later. Mind-blowing, entertaining; film worthy and can only imagine the cast of stars. Gives new meaning to edge-of-your-seat in all categories. Loved, loved the author/recluse, Angelo and Nell. Priceless. The sacrifices he made to try and save Nell (she can identify one of the guys), all the while talking to his dead wife. I found myself skipping over the violent scenes with the killers, and the cops, rushing to get back to the cabin to learn the fate of these two stranded victims. “All fear was, in the end, fear of death. Once you knew you were dying, there was nothing left to fear. It gave you the last great gift; infinite courage.” I am all for reinvention; however, in this case, not needed, as no matter the name chosen for the book cover; It is Killer. It Rocks. Oh, BTW, did I mention, Black’s writing is captivating! Can't wait to see what's next. Lovemurder Coming July 25, 2017 (Valerie Hart #2). A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 Stars JDCMustReadBooks

  11. 5 out of 5

    Zuky the BookBum

    I’ve had this book on my shelves for literally years – Amazon tells me I purchased it on 29th Feb 2016!!! – and I don’t really know why it’s taken me so long to get around to it. I can honestly say this is one of the best police-procedural-crime-dramas I’ve read in a long time! The opening scene, a single mother in her house, seeing two men, and coming to the quick realisation that today’s the day she’s going to die, is so shocking and instantly grabs you. From there, the book doesn’t let you go. I’ve had this book on my shelves for literally years – Amazon tells me I purchased it on 29th Feb 2016!!! – and I don’t really know why it’s taken me so long to get around to it. I can honestly say this is one of the best police-procedural-crime-dramas I’ve read in a long time! The opening scene, a single mother in her house, seeing two men, and coming to the quick realisation that today’s the day she’s going to die, is so shocking and instantly grabs you. From there, the book doesn’t let you go. Even though the book lulls into some more emotional and sensitive parts, Black keeps you fully engaged with the story by sprinkling these quieter scenes with quick, punchy shocks that lead straight back into the drama. And oh, how delicious that drama is! It’s been a while since I’ve read a really gruesome, squirm-worthy story (Let’s Go Play at the Adams’ excluded) but this filled all those morbid needs of mine. This is definitely not a book for the faint-hearted, it’s filled with some really shocking moments! It’s also worth noting Black does not mess around in this novel. There are so many moments that punch you straight in the gut. Be prepared for several heartbreaking moments. The crime of this novel is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s so difficult to create new crimes in books and that’s why we so often find the same story written over and over again, but this really is something new (for me at least!). It’s so dark, disturbed and evil. The killers themselves aren’t literature changing, but the motivation behind the killings is insane and the process of Valerie and the team discovering it is heart racing and intense. The writing in this one is bloody fantastic, I mean I thought the Erika Foster books were good in terms of the story, but the writing was pretty flat. This, however, takes crime writing to another level. Black stepped into the skin of so many different people and you can feel that so many real emotions went into writing this book. The way he’s able to describe feelings and emotions is absolutely on the nose, how someone verbalises those things I have no idea, it’s like he’s crawled into your very being. Another thing I loved about the writing in this novel is how it was told. It’s told in the third person from all the main characters, plus a few extras who only appear for a single chapter. I loved this switching and changing between the characters, it kept the story interesting and it was fun seeing the occurrences from each person. I saw a review for this novel not too long ago, and it mentioned how the main detective was the cliché you find in all police-procedurals. Heart-broken, alcoholic, haunted but determined, and I thought “oh, great”, but surprisingly, even though Valerie was just that and that is the kind of main detective I usually hate, I found myself really engaging with her character. While she was reasonably self-pitying, it didn’t offend me as much as it has done from other similar characters. I thought she was pretty hard-headed and exciting. The only thing I can say negatively about this book is that I felt the end dragged a little and suddenly became overly dramatised. I felt most of the novel, although outlandish, felt very real, but to keep momentum at the end, Black added in several very “Hollywood” moments which I felt ruined the realism the rest of the novel held. Also, the synopsis makes quite a focus on the little girl who escapes the murder scene at the beginning of the book, and while the book does go back to her a few times, her escape is not a huge part of the story until right near the end. Other than that, this book was absolutely top notch! I’m definitely, definitely going to buy the second Valerie Hart novel (LoveMurder) and I hope Black brings out more in the series. I highly recommend this novel to any crime-thriller lovers out there! I’ve already passed this one on to my dad as I think he’d love it! Final rating: 4.5 stars

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erin Dunn

    My review and GIVEAWAY here!! http://angelerin.blogspot.com/2015/10... My review and GIVEAWAY here!! http://angelerin.blogspot.com/2015/10...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Robin Loves Reading

    Valerie Hart is a homicide detective from San Francisco and she will stop at nothing to find a serial killer attacking women. The attacks are brutal and have more than one strange signature. Valerie fears for any other woman who might fall into this path. Two men meet at a farmhouse in Colorado and end up committing a despicable crime, leaving a young child witness to her mother's death. It is quite hopeful that the little girl escape completely, although the tragedy will scar her for life. This Valerie Hart is a homicide detective from San Francisco and she will stop at nothing to find a serial killer attacking women. The attacks are brutal and have more than one strange signature. Valerie fears for any other woman who might fall into this path. Two men meet at a farmhouse in Colorado and end up committing a despicable crime, leaving a young child witness to her mother's death. It is quite hopeful that the little girl escape completely, although the tragedy will scar her for life. This is just the first of a long line of violent crimes for the two men. I admire Valerie Hart. Her determination to bring an end to these killings was admirable. It is no surprise that this places her right in the line of fire. No doubt any future cases that she is responsible for will receive the same dedication. This debut story by Saul Black is his debut novel. I actually received a print ARC of Anything for You for review, and it is the third book in the Valerie Hart series. Since I wanted to know more about the detective, I chose to read the first book in this series. This may indeed be the darkest book that I have read to-date, as readers are often in the mind of complete psychopaths. Although I have the next book in the series, Lovemurder, I need a break from such intensity.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Krystin Rachel

    Book Blog | Bookstagram The last four weeks have been so busy - birthdays and readying for the holidays - that when I started this book at the end of November, I didn't get to read it as much as I wanted to. Then, this past weekend, my 91-year-old grandmother went into the hospital with an ischemic bowel and sepsis. For days, we waited to see if she would get better. The stress, the anxiety, the grief - it was exceptionally exhausting, my body was screaming for sleep, but I just couldn't. So in t Book Blog | Bookstagram The last four weeks have been so busy - birthdays and readying for the holidays - that when I started this book at the end of November, I didn't get to read it as much as I wanted to. Then, this past weekend, my 91-year-old grandmother went into the hospital with an ischemic bowel and sepsis. For days, we waited to see if she would get better. The stress, the anxiety, the grief - it was exceptionally exhausting, my body was screaming for sleep, but I just couldn't. So in the ICU waiting room, I finally really dived into this book. And I want to thank Saul Black - aka Glen Duncan - for writing a novel that transported me away from my real-life heartache and into one of the most satisfying reading experiences of my life. My grandmother passed away on Sunday, Dec. 6, so this is the first chance I'm getting to put that aside and do something normal, like writing a review. It might seem strange to say a novel that is a stomach-churning, violent and depressing story of murder and addiction and terror, could bring me a reprieve from my grandmother's last days - but this was such a brilliant, vibrant world that I was able to be fully distracted by the rich plot, the psychologically full characters and the undeniable need to know what was going to happen next, propelled by the poetic and perfectly unique-for-the-genre prose. My aunt had asked me, "what are you reading, dear?" So I read her the blurb on the inside cover. ...women abducted, tortured and left with a seemingly random series of objects inside them... "Oh my, who would want to read that?" Um, ME. It opens with Rowena Cooper... The instant Rowena stepped out of her warm, cookie-scented kitchen and saw the two men standing in her back hallway, snow melting from the rims of their boots, she knew exactly what this was ..." A serial killing duo is at large, doing some disgusting things and leaving a bloody trail of at least seven bodies in the wake of their cross-country spree. Trying to catch them is S.F.P.D Detective Valerie Hart - a drunk, obsessive and self-destructive cop with a chip on her shoulder the size of California. While Valerie stumbles through her tunnel vision, focused only on catching these killers, Black sets multiple other story lines into motion: Nell, Rowena Cooper's daughter who made it out alive when her mother was murdered; Angelo, Nell's rescuer and cripple; Claudia, the latest victim chained up in a basement cage in the middle of nowhere and Carla, an FBI agent who is out to destroy Valerie, for reasons unknown. The police work is convincing and detailed. And the characters are fresh and raw. The gore is restrained, compared to Black's (as Duncan) other work, but still palpable and, for lack of a better word, nasty. And the perspective of each character is so real, it creates tension and horror and unease in perfect amounts. The combination of these things is an addictive read that will transport the reader. Lovers of the mystery-cop genre may fault Black for a few police procedural oversights, or some unlikely leads that seem to come out of nowhere too perfectly, but because of the circumstances I read it under and how beautiful I found this very disturbing novel, it gets all the stars from me. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | 5 stars

  15. 5 out of 5

    Petra

    I am not even going to attempt to summarize the plot. I think it's suffice to say The Killing Lessons was an outstanding serial killer thrill ride. Saul Black aka Glen Duncan clearly has superb writing skills. The Killing Lessons was utterly frightening, tense and suspenseful. The first chapter really pulls you in. There were a lot of characters, and Saul Black did an amazing job of fully fleshing out each one, which was great. But (and I'm sure that this will make no sense to anyone but me) the I am not even going to attempt to summarize the plot. I think it's suffice to say The Killing Lessons was an outstanding serial killer thrill ride. Saul Black aka Glen Duncan clearly has superb writing skills. The Killing Lessons was utterly frightening, tense and suspenseful. The first chapter really pulls you in. There were a lot of characters, and Saul Black did an amazing job of fully fleshing out each one, which was great. But (and I'm sure that this will make no sense to anyone but me) there was so much depth to each character, I occasionally found my mind wandering while listening to the audio version and then having to rewind, ... never a good sign. It went through phases of adrenaline extremely high and then it would even out and give you plenty of information I wasn't sure I really needed. So this is probably a book that really needs to be savored and appreciated in small installments. There were some incidents that were just a tad silly and far-fetched, e.g. that helicopter scene and the Russell Crowe thing. But overall, a solid thriller and one of the most terrifying ones I have read in a while. 4.5 stars

  16. 5 out of 5

    *TANYA*

    4.25 stars!! Horrible serial killer. Kick butt cop. This book had me on edge the whole time. Somewhat graphic too. Very good book but my next read needs to be something happy full of unicorns and rainbows and musical forest animals. Lol.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    I am always on the look out for a good dark brutal thriller. The Killing Lessons has been on my radar, for quite a while. It had fabulous reviews, at publication. I finally got to it! It all starts with a couple of seasoned killers slaughtering a family, in their isolated home. A child escapes and runs far away. She finds a safe place to hide. We are introduced to two serial killers. We learn about their motives and their dark thoughts. They are the kind of people that need a danger sign placed o I am always on the look out for a good dark brutal thriller. The Killing Lessons has been on my radar, for quite a while. It had fabulous reviews, at publication. I finally got to it! It all starts with a couple of seasoned killers slaughtering a family, in their isolated home. A child escapes and runs far away. She finds a safe place to hide. We are introduced to two serial killers. We learn about their motives and their dark thoughts. They are the kind of people that need a danger sign placed over their heads. Stay away. Sadistic men, who play at murder. At the same time, we are introduced to a flawed and self-destructive police detective. Valerie Hart is a hunter. She is seeking a killer of women, who leaves random objects inserted into their bodies. This was such an impressive read. There was never a dull moment, to be had. Saul Black doesn’t let us stop for breath, as we rush from the crime scene to the injured child to the killers and the detective. We peer into the cold minds of the killers. We see what made Valerie Hart break. We watch the killers in action. Can they be stopped? Will Valerie Hart and her team make progress, on the case? How long will it take for Valerie to find the child witness to the killings? Utterly brilliant. I could even forgive Saul Black (aka Glenn Duncan) for his stereotypical alcoholic detective. I adored every word. Recommended.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Angela DeSilva

    Good book really liked it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mark Edwards

    This is fast-paced, exciting and the last 50% is thrilling and genuinely scary. It's also beautifully written, as you'd expect from Glen Duncan (the author, using Saul Black as a pseudonym). However, it's difficult to review this book without being aware of the hype surrounding it, with quotes such as 'the best serial killer thriller since Silence of the Lambs' all over Twitter. It's not, mainly because it doesn't do anything new. TKL has got everything you'd expect in this kind of novel: a dete This is fast-paced, exciting and the last 50% is thrilling and genuinely scary. It's also beautifully written, as you'd expect from Glen Duncan (the author, using Saul Black as a pseudonym). However, it's difficult to review this book without being aware of the hype surrounding it, with quotes such as 'the best serial killer thriller since Silence of the Lambs' all over Twitter. It's not, mainly because it doesn't do anything new. TKL has got everything you'd expect in this kind of novel: a detective with a drink problem, a killer with an interesting calling card and a horrible childhood, women locked up and trying to escape, etc, etc. Also the investigative parts of the book are quite weak - lots of luck and sudden revelations. The thing with the Australian actor is a bit daft. HOWEVER, it is a superior serial killer thriller, it's a great read and I was fully invested in the fate of the characters so very highly recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    I haven’t read a decent serial killer novel in such a long time – mostly because I grew rather weary of the genre since there was a dearth of original specimens out there. Saul Black has succeeded in luring me back with this accomplished piece of writing which I devoured in one sitting. The chapters are short and succinct with lots of twists and turns to make this a really addictive read. The characters are true to life and the author takes care and time to let the reader know more about both the I haven’t read a decent serial killer novel in such a long time – mostly because I grew rather weary of the genre since there was a dearth of original specimens out there. Saul Black has succeeded in luring me back with this accomplished piece of writing which I devoured in one sitting. The chapters are short and succinct with lots of twists and turns to make this a really addictive read. The characters are true to life and the author takes care and time to let the reader know more about both the “goodies” and the “baddies” making them more than a means to an end. There’s a lot going on in this fast paced thriller with the main detective being victimised by someone unknown, a child witness to a murder unable to get to safety, a serial killer tiring of his sidekick. It’s a dark and disturbing tale but extremely entertaining at that…. strange but true! My thanks to Orion, the publishers, for providing me with a review copy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    3 stars! How many lives does this murderer have? For the most part, I thought this book was pretty good. I cringed a lot during the murder scenes. This guy was disgusting, but I guess you can't expect much from a guy who doesn't know that L comes before M and has to carry a chart around with him. Also, I didn't care too much for the main character, Valerie. There was just something about her that just didn't hit me the right way. And Carla, I couldn't stand her at all. While there were a lot of mo 3 stars! How many lives does this murderer have? For the most part, I thought this book was pretty good. I cringed a lot during the murder scenes. This guy was disgusting, but I guess you can't expect much from a guy who doesn't know that L comes before M and has to carry a chart around with him. Also, I didn't care too much for the main character, Valerie. There was just something about her that just didn't hit me the right way. And Carla, I couldn't stand her at all. While there were a lot of moments of suspense, I just felt that it was just too long. That man had more lives than most cats. And the helicopter scene was way unbelievable. Thanks St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for the free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carol - Reading Writing and Riesling

    My View: If you love crime fiction, if you love serial killer narratives that run full pelt off the page- then this is a book for you. This book demands that you read it in one sitting – be prepared to sit and read four hundred and eight pages of pulse raising drama without moving from your chair, there are no distractions important enough to tear you away from this book. If this book was a film I would watch with my hands partly covering my eyes. Terrifying!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amy Bruestle

    Wow. This was a really good book! I actually listened to it as an audiobook, which is why it took me so long to finish it, as it was something I only listened to when I didn’t have an actual book with me, since I prefer those over any other medium. I won another book by this author from a goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review, but the book I won was the second book in the series, so I wanted to read this one first to have some background on the characters. I’m glad I decided to rea Wow. This was a really good book! I actually listened to it as an audiobook, which is why it took me so long to finish it, as it was something I only listened to when I didn’t have an actual book with me, since I prefer those over any other medium. I won another book by this author from a goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review, but the book I won was the second book in the series, so I wanted to read this one first to have some background on the characters. I’m glad I decided to read this because it is one of the better new books (new to me) that I’ve read this year. Suspenseful and interesting the whole time! Keeps you on your toes and always wanting more! I felt for the little girl (Nell) in the story. She was so strong! And i loved how real Valerie was with her good qualities, but also her flaws and imperfections as well. It made her a lot more likable. I can’t wait to see what other books come out in this series!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rissa

    I was intrigued with the case but I wasn’t connecting with the characters and the case was slow and I wanted action and adventure and I sadly didnt get that.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Amazing, frightening, suspenseful... had everything. A really well written novel. Enjoyed the characters (even the bad guys) and believe that they were very well developed. This book catered for many emotions and many shifting emotions. One chapter I was happy, then on edge followed up by horrified. Great read this one. Have already check out other books by this author.

  26. 4 out of 5

    MARILYN

    Everyone knows my love of serial killers and this one was very very good. A creepy killer and his partner, well written characters that you care about and although he kept 3 stories going I was never confused and he tied it all together. Loved it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Camden Johnson

    I'm not usually one for detective novels but I decided to give this one a go. It had a very compelling story that had me hooked from the first chapter. I ended up reading this one all in one sitting because I liked the plot but i also feel as though at times it dragged a lot. The detective character was as cliche as they come with the typical traumatic past, drinking problems, and relationship trouble. I didn't seem to care too much about that aspect but I liked it when they focused more on the I'm not usually one for detective novels but I decided to give this one a go. It had a very compelling story that had me hooked from the first chapter. I ended up reading this one all in one sitting because I liked the plot but i also feel as though at times it dragged a lot. The detective character was as cliche as they come with the typical traumatic past, drinking problems, and relationship trouble. I didn't seem to care too much about that aspect but I liked it when they focused more on the killer's perspective or the victim's perspective. I'm not sure if I will check out more from the series but this was pretty good.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Read

    "In The Killing Lessons, we meet a pair of serial killers and their victims. We are dropped straight into the fatigued homicide investigation and bear witness to the horror that has ruined lead detective Valerie’s life. We start counting down the hours that the latest victim might have left to live, while at the same time struggling through the clues that might lead Valerie to her while she’s still alive. And we wait with the young girl who escaped when her entire family was murdered, hoping tha "In The Killing Lessons, we meet a pair of serial killers and their victims. We are dropped straight into the fatigued homicide investigation and bear witness to the horror that has ruined lead detective Valerie’s life. We start counting down the hours that the latest victim might have left to live, while at the same time struggling through the clues that might lead Valerie to her while she’s still alive. And we wait with the young girl who escaped when her entire family was murdered, hoping that the killers won’t come back for her, and knowing that they will. Valerie is the alcoholic police officer whose obsession with catching these serial killers has brought her to her knees. Carla, an FBI agent with an inexplicable vendetta against Valerie, is doggedly monitoring her for any signs of incompetence as their hunt for the killer begins to narrow its focus. Riddled with sciatica and immobilized by grief, novelist Angelo intended to spend some time alone in his woodland cabin coming to terms with his wife’s death. His reverie is disrupted when he opens the door to find a young girl, hypothermic and near-dead, on his front porch. Eleven year-old Nell escaped the scene of her family’s murder and fled to the only other occupied house in the area – Angelo’s. With her broken bones and his crippling pain, they are sitting ducks for the murderers who will inevitably return to the scene of their crime."

  29. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan

    I’ll start by saying this is a low four-star rating. There were a few moments throughout in which I considered giving three stars, yet in the end I had to opt for the four. It is far from the strongest four star rating I have ever given, but I couldn’t bring myself to drop it down to a three star rating as I enjoyed it too much for that. I’m not one hundred percent sure about how I feel about this one, though. As I said, I enjoyed it too much to give a three star rating but it wasn’t quite a four I’ll start by saying this is a low four-star rating. There were a few moments throughout in which I considered giving three stars, yet in the end I had to opt for the four. It is far from the strongest four star rating I have ever given, but I couldn’t bring myself to drop it down to a three star rating as I enjoyed it too much for that. I’m not one hundred percent sure about how I feel about this one, though. As I said, I enjoyed it too much to give a three star rating but it wasn’t quite a four stars. Mostly, it’s because I did not engage with the story as much as I would have liked to. I’ll start with the writing style. I’m a lover of individual writing styles, the type that works as an identifier. I can safely say such is the case with this author. They have a writing style that is very much their own. However, I’m not one hundred percent sure about how I felt towards the particular style. It’s not bad; it simply wasn’t something I would go out of my way to read more of. Partly, I believe, this is due to the same words being used over and over again. Not just any words, though. It was as though the author occasionally used a thesaurus and realised they had a new favourite word. It reminded me far too much of the ‘word of the day’ and how people will go out of their way to use it far too many times in sentences. The story itself, however, was really interesting. I was gripped to see where things would go, enjoying the way we followed many aspects of the story. I do feel, though, that Nell’s aspect of the story was a bit of a let down. I had expected more of a struggle for survival. When it became obvious that Nell wouldn’t be getting the attention the blurb had me believing she would, it became clear how the ending would play out. We knew she played a vital part, and with the way things were working, we knew it was only a matter of time before certain aspects came to be. I would have liked more from this aspect of the story, but other than that I did enjoy the way we followed many different characters. Despite this, I couldn’t bring myself to connect with any of the characters. None of the stories really stood out for me. Mostly, their individual backstories and side stories bored me. There wasn’t anything overly original. The cops were clichés. The criminals were clichés. The reasoning for actions were clichéd. I’ve seen them before, and I’ll probably see them again. Even though I did enjoy it, I’m not sure whether I will continue on with more stories following these characters. I guess we’ll find out when we have conformation as to whether or not the talk of a series is true. Perhaps I will pick up the next book, but I cannot say for sure. Overall, a decent enough read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tien

    There seems to be a flood of psychological thrillers these days since Gone Girl. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of that book and so, I feel a little ambivalent towards this genre. In saying that, it still hasn’t stop me reading one or two and I thought this was one. Fortunately, it’s not! And fortunately, I have absolutely enjoyed this reading this book –even if my heart was permanently in my mouth from start to end. The book began with a chilling scene. It’s a scene which grabbed my attention str There seems to be a flood of psychological thrillers these days since Gone Girl. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of that book and so, I feel a little ambivalent towards this genre. In saying that, it still hasn’t stop me reading one or two and I thought this was one. Fortunately, it’s not! And fortunately, I have absolutely enjoyed this reading this book –even if my heart was permanently in my mouth from start to end. The book began with a chilling scene. It’s a scene which grabbed my attention straight away from the contrast of a nice safe homey feeling (with smells of baking!) to the intrusion of sinister strangers. This is all in one (1) sentence. Yes, the very first sentence! My heart began to race and did not stop until right the very end. The tension of the chase and the pace of the tale was maintained exquisitely throughout the telling. The Killing Lessons was so much more than the book blurb. It wasn’t just about the little girl who survived nor the detective on the trail of these murderers. There were a number of other perspectives which took a little time to get used to but which I fully appreciated later on. It’s almost like hearing a story from everybody’s points of view so you’d get the full picture of what’s happening. I could not put this book down. It was an electrifying ride reading from the points of view of victims, murderers, and detectives. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to all thriller lovers and I’ve fallen in love with this author too! I think I might even try his fantasy works  Thanks to Hachette Australia via The Reading Room for Uncorrected Proof in exchange of honest review

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